Dresden, Max Formerly, Institute for Theoretical Physics, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York.
- Distribution function
- Boltzmann equation; H theorem
- Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution
- Statistical method; fluctuations
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
To describe a system consisting of a large number of particles in a physically useful manner, recourse must be had to so-called statistical procedures. If the mechanical laws operating in the system are those of classical mechanics, and if the system is sufficiently dilute, the resulting statistical treatment is referred to as Boltzmann or classical statistics. (Dilute in this instance means that the total volume available is much larger than the proper volume of the particles.) A gas is a typical example: The molecules interacting according to the laws of classical mechanics are the constituents of the system, and the pressure, temperature, and other parameters are the overall entities which determine the macroscopic behavior of the gas. In a case of this kind it is neither possible nor desirable to solve the complicated equations of motion of the molecules; one is not interested in the position and velocity of every molecule at any time. The purpose of the statistical description is to extract from the mechanical description just those features relevant for the determination of the macroscopic properties and to omit others.
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